Episode Air Date: October 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th 2014
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Once Upon A Time (White Out, Rocky Road, The Apprentice, Breaking Glass)
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parilla, Josh Dallas, Colon O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Giancarlo Esposito, Lee Arenberg, Emilie De Ravin, Michael Socha, Robert Carlyle, Raphael Sbarge, Sean Maguire, Christie Laing, Elizabeth Lail, Georgina Haig, Scott Michael Foster, Elizabeth Mitchell
Probably one of the most intense batch of episodes I’ve seen of Once Upon a Time ever, the 4th season of the ABC series has started off with a big bang, as characters from Frozen filled our screens and interacted with our beloved Storybrooke characters. And while it seemed that in the 4th season premiere episode, that Elsa (Georgina Haig) was going to harm Storybrooke and be the next ‘villian’ for that particular half of the season; what is revealed in the episodes after tells a more chilling story. Welcome Elizabeth Mitchell, to the OUAT family, now if only we can figure out the Snow Queen’s endgame, because it is rather mysterious…
Because there is a lot of things happening (in the present and in the flashbacks as well) with respect to a lot of the characters, with quite a few of them having their own episode centric’s; let me give you a quick rundown of the episodes, but not in the order than was aired, but how it relates to the characters and their development (or sometimes regression). With so many parallel stories, I think that season 4 is the most complex season yet, but what I love about this show is that it seems like everything comes together quite nicely in the end, with not too many loose ends.
First of all, let’s dive into the Frozen material. When we last met Anna (Elizabeth Lail) and Elsa in the flashback scenes, Elsa was impatiently waiting in Arrendelle with Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster) for Anna to return, while Anna travelled to Misthaven (The Enchanted Forest), to find Rumplestilstkin (Robert Carlyle), so that she could receive answers about what happened to their parents. First though, she makes a pit-stop to the farm of David (Josh Dallas) – before he met Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin), and before Rumple ever told him that he had a twin. It seems that David and Kristoff are close friends (although, has David ever been to Arrendelle? Will we ever see their friendship in a flashback episode? Maybe not…), and Anna seeks a place to stay for a while until she can sort out how to find Rumple. While helping David conquer his fear of ruthless warlord Bo Peep (Robin Weigert), who is trying to repossess their land as he and his mother didn’t pay their rent on time- really, was Bo Peep really necessary?- Anna helps David open up about his father who walked out on them (whom I have a suspicion will show up later in the season!) and be the brave person that we saw when he and Snow first met. And as gratitude for helping, Anna learns where Rumple is.
But when Anna finds Rumple in his castle (this is before he met Belle by the way!), he is obsessed with trying to find a magical hat (yep the same hat that Rumple took in Storybrooke in the end of the first episode of this season!), in order for himself to be free from the dagger but still keep all of his powers. Seems like an out of character moment, as all Rumple wanted to do was to find his son. But perhaps it was Belle who helped Rumple remember who he was fighting for, and before Rumple was just lost. Anyway, he needs Anna to help him find the hat, but putting a bottle of liquid into an old man’s drink. Sounding sinister and making it sound like he was wanting to poison the old man (Timothy Weber), Anna accepts the ‘deal’ but backs out at the last minute, and then discovers that the liquid was the antidote to the poison Rumple gave the man the day before. The old man (aka, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice) has turned into a mouse (Mickey Mouse anyone?). With Rumple and Anna then travelling to the man’s house, in which Rumple gloats to Anna about his quest for power, he succeeds in pressuring Anna to thinking about killing him, resulting in Anna’s tears falling on the dagger, the last piece of the puzzle before Rumple can access the hat. But when Rumple grabs the hat and tells Anna that her parents left in order to rid Elsa of her powers, Anna hijacks the dagger, commanding her to be sent home along with the hat, and the mouse to be turned back to a man. Rumple grants her this wish, and Anna reunites with Kristoff.
While Elsa had her own set of problems in Arrendelle. Hans (Tyler Jacob Moore) had acquired a strange bottle, and planned to trap Elsa in it, much to the displeasure of Kristoff, who tried to unsuccessfully stop Hans. However, just when we thought Elsa was going to be trapped, The Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell) escapes from the urn (not sure how long she was in the urn!), making her first appearance in Fairy Tale Land. She immobilises (or kills?) Hans, then vows to Elsa that they will find Anna together, as she reveals herself to be their aunt. Sound sinister? Like it’s a lie and way out of the blue?
Well it may be true. Flash-forward to the present, and the Snow Queen (or Sarah Fisher as she’s known in Storybrooke) has been incognito this whole time, in Storybrooke, as the owner of an ice cream shop. But she makes her presence known just after a blackout that Elsa cause because of her frightened state playing a part in building an ice wall around the entire town, and causing the power lines to fall down (I think Sarah made her presence known when she realised Elsa was in town!). With Elsa claiming that now one can leave Storybrooke until Anna is found, she unintentionally traps Emma and herself behind a giant ice wall. Eventually they are saved by David and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), and David vows to find Anna, after knowing that it was Anna who came to him all those years ago for refuge, who helped him.
But with Sarah now out in the open, she toys with the lives of many people in Storybrooke. She freezes the heart of Marian (Christie Liang), and lets the viewers in on, and brings to the fore two points. That Marian and Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) are not true love (as Robin’s kiss on Marian did not work), and that Regina (Lana Parilla) is willing to help Robin save Marian’s life, so that she can be seen as a good person, and hopefully earn Robin’s love again. Sarah also tries to kill Elsa and Hook when they confront her and ask her who she is. And in the latest episode, she wittingly fools Regina into trusting Sidney (Giancarlo Esposito), and by doing so, steals Regina’s pocket mirror, while Regina and Emma are looking for Sarah (Regina wanting Sarah to unfreeze Marian’s heart, and Emma wanting to know how Sarah know her). Apparently the pocket mirror is needed in Sarah’s baffling and confusing plan to have a perfect family, from where I’m sitting, I reckon Sarah is nuts. Although the next few episodes may successfully or at least try to explain her motives. Sarah also plays with Emma’s head, and it’s evident that she and Emma have a past. In the latest episode, there’s a reference back to season 1- apparently Emma and Sarah interacted when the first curse wasn’t broken yet (as Sidney Glass photographed Emma talking to Sarah when he was spying for Regina), but Emma’s memories have been wiped. Does this element make us question everything that has occurred in season 1? Maybe…
Apart from Sarah, who has had a fair bit of character development in Storybrooke (as she’s the antagonist of this half of the first season); we see a few more characters acknowledging their faults and coming to terms with who they really are. Regina is trying to find the author of the book, and has even persuaded Henry (Jared S Gilmore) to join ‘Operation Mongoose’- where Henry now works undercover with Rumple at his shop in order to find out how Rumple attained his happy ending! Regina also tries to unfreeze Marian, and while dealing with the duplicitous Sidney and restarting her fragile friendship with Emma, it seems she has changed from her killing spree days. Emma, too, has acknowledged her role in destroying Regina’s happiness, and has apologised, not for bringing Marian back, but for the damage she caused.
As far as Emma and Hook’s relationship is concerned, from Emma’s point of view, it is going quite well- they are steady. Though Hook receives his hand back in an episode, so that he and Emma can go out on a date, however Rumple cursed the hand (allowing Hook’s former characteristics to seep through his new self!), as leverage so that Hook couldn’t spill the beans to Belle that SPOILER Rumple actually has the real dagger and is using it to collect all of the magic in Storybrooke, and capturing it into his hat. Thus Hook reluctantly aids Rumple in a crime, to suck the Sorcerer’s Apprentice into the hat. Hook is now a ‘slave’ to Rumple, who has magically altered the security cameras, removing himself but implicating Hook in the crime; and it is this reluctant partnership that makes the rest of the arc much more interesting and intriguing, given their dislike for reach other, and their history. While Snow and David play the support roles for this season so far (inclusive of giving their opinion of Emma’s date with Hook, fussing over Neal, and Snow trying to restart the power through a backup generator), Henry has only interacted mostly with Regina and Rumple, when concerning the author of the book, Robin Hood has only appeared in a couple of episodes, and Belle has appeared in a little bit of the show since her honeymoon with Rumple (never fear- her centric is coming up soon!); I feel that 2 characters that have been introduced recently are what I find most interesting.
Will Scarlett (Michael Socha), or The Knave Of Hearts, as we knew him in Once Upon A Time In Wonderland; was such a fan favourite on the show, that when it was cancelled, he was immediately brought over to OUAT. Since OUAT:IW was set around the time of OUAT season 2, we know that Will’s presence in Storybrooke means that his happy ending with Anastasia (Emma Rigby) aka The Red Queen didn’t go as planned. Maybe Emma and Hook travelling to the past upset something in the space/time continuum, or maybe Sarah (or maybe Maleficent, the big bad for Season 4B) has imprisoned Anastasia, and Will has to rescue her by retrieving an item that he can’t find in Storybrooke… After all, why else would he run from Emma and David, steal a Wonderland book from the library, and dig holes on the beach (Storybrooke has a beach?)? Sounds very mysterious, and it’s this unknown element that has me eager to see how things pan out. As an actor, Michael has brought quite a lot of energy and a fresh perspective to the show, and I can’t wait to see his story unfold, and how he reunites with Robin.
Just in this episode, the final reveal, that SPOILER, Sarah was Emma’s foster mother, has made me more intrigued than ever. Now I would want to know how she got to the real world, and what she wants with Emma, Anna and Elsa. However it is the introduction of Emma’s childhood friend Lily (Nicole Munoz) that has me questioning whether she is a fairytale character too. Apparently she’s an orphan, and seeing how this flashback was set just before Emma met Neal, could Lily have travelled with Neal, and be Tiger Lily from Neverland, who broke away from Pan’s spell? This introduction of this recurring character could bring back a host of other characters like Wendy, John, Michael and Peter Pan (whom I don’t believe is dead!)… What do you guys think of my hypothesis? Nevertheless, Lily is an interesting character that I hope tells a bit more about Emma’s childhood.
Acting wise, everyone stepped up to the plate, and the Frozen elements meshed in with the Storybrooke elements seemed very organic. Both Elizabeth and Georgina excel quite wonderfully and professionally, in their roles of Anna and Elsa respectively. And while the seasoned veterans of Lana, Robert and Giancarlo excel at their roles also (as does Ginnifer, Jennifer, Josh, Colin, Jared and Emilie); it is Elizabeth Mitchell and Michael Socha that deserves the praise acting wise, as they bring a sense of new life injected into the show with their quick wit and their expert portrayal of their mysterious characters. Scenery wise, Arrendelle is a still picturesque place (even with Hans!), and I also loved the effects of the snow on Elsa’s head when she is stressed, with the broom, and the Darth Vadar like monster great as CGI. I’m still waiting for Olaf though, and here’s hoping that these Frozen characters, whom I have grown to love as live action characters, can stick around during Season 4B!
Did episodes 2-5 of season 4 of Once Upon A Time leave a lasting impression on you? Did any themes in the episode speak to you, and which was it? What elements of the show are you enjoying and looking forward to? Who do you think is the writer of the book? What do you think will happen to Rumple’s obsession with the hat? Will Belle stumble upon Rumple’s secret, and how do you think Will Scarlett, the Knave of Hearts, will feature in the series? What do you think is Sarah Fisher’s endgame, and will we know why Emma has forgotten bits of her past?
Will you be tuning in next week when Season 4 continues? Let us know in the comments.
RIYL: Grimm, Arrow, Supernatural, Revenge, Merlin
Rating: 4/5 (based on 5 episodes)
Once Upon A Time Season 4 airs every Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.